Picture 1: The Frankfurt-Hoechst site of Bilfinger Maintenance
Realistic test conditions for complex processes
One of the main applications includes the verification of hardware and software designs for recording measurements during the process and the suitability of Internet security concepts for transmitting data to the cloud and the development of software tools in the cloud under realistic conditions. Participating companies can use the facility without any complications or complex approval processes.
Bilfinger is designing the facility to ensure that test assemblies and processes can be modified flexibly to meet different requirements. With its capabilities in the maintenance of fieldbus equipment, Bilfinger is able to integrate the testing and simulation systems in such a way that realistic error conditions are achieved and can be reproduced. This applies to both unwanted operating conditions in the process and to technical disruptions in the equipment such as those caused by aging effects.
The demonstration and testing equipment is primarily composed of:
- the process part comprising two automated containers,
- measuring equipment that transfers data in parallel to the automation system (machine diagnostics) in accordance with the NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) model,
- Internet connectivity via a leased line as well as various firewalls and other security precautions
- one or more cloud-based systems
The testing is expected to produce specific results for recording measurements and storing them in the cloud, e.g. on machine diagnostics, as well as standardized concepts for consistency and IT security. The first goal has already been achieved, namely the integration of measuring equipment via WirelessHART and other connections via a leased Internet line to a cloud system operated by Bilfinger staff and the testing laboratories for E/I&C and analysis technology in Frankfurt am Main.
The second goal is to be reached this summer with the operation of the process testing facility. This will provide a testing facility for digitalization components and the development of software tools together with demonstration and training equipment.
A milestone in the digital strategy for the future
“Digitalization poses a major challenge but also a major opportunity for the process industry and its service partners,” says Gerald Pilotto, Executive President Bilfinger Maintenance, Modifications & Operations (MMO) Continental Europe. “Practice-oriented collaboration with our customers offers an optimum basis for developing our expertise at a high level and, in this way, for safeguarding and expanding the strong position of the European process industry.”
Bilfinger attaches strategic importance to digitalization and appointed Franz Xaver Braun to the position of Chief Digital Officer in March 2017. In May, a pilot project was commenced in collaboration with Münzing Chemie for which Bilfinger has developed a new MMO platform. This platform is being used to combine data from engineering, process control and sensory systems with maintenance information for evaluation in the cloud.